capital bikeshare

Portland, Oregon to join bike share movement

On the heels of the launch of Hubway, Boston’s bike share program, it appears Portland will be getting one its own.  Last week, the City Council approved in a 4-1 vote and $9 million dollar spending package, which includes $2 million for a bicycle share system. To date, Boston, Washington DC, and Minneapolis are the only major US cities to implement bike sharing systems.  San Francisco is scheduled to join the bunch in spring 2012 and New York City is narrowing down its set of proposals with expected launch in the same timeframe.

Portland Bureau of Transportation notes that bike sharing has progressed through three generations:

  • 1st generation: no-tech, unstructured approach found in Amsterdam in the 1960s.
  • 2nd generation: low-tech, moderate expense like City Bike in Copenhagen and Helsinki
  • 3rd generation: high-tech and more expensive ($500 - $5500 per bike), including use of Smart Card technology.  Allow tracking of bikes.

Portland’s system would likely be of the 3rd generation type.  Guangzhou and Hangzhou’s systems  and Barcelona’s Bicing are of this type as well.  Barcelona recently published a study indicating the safety aspects of its system – it claims 12+ lives a year are being saved as a result of the program.

-          Terra Curtis

 

Portland, Oregon to join bike share movement

On the heels of the launch of Hubway, Boston’s bike share program, it appears Portland will be getting one its own.  Last week, the City Council approved in a 4-1 vote and $9 million dollar spending package, which includes $2 million for a bicycle share system. To date, Boston, Washington DC, and Minneapolis are the only major US cities to implement bike sharing systems.  San Francisco is scheduled to join the bunch in spring 2012 and New York City is narrowing down its set of proposals with expected launch in the same timeframe.

Portland Bureau of Transportation notes that bike sharing has progressed through three generations:

  • 1st generation: no-tech, unstructured approach found in Amsterdam in the 1960s.
  • 2nd generation: low-tech, moderate expense like City Bike in Copenhagen and Helsinki
  • 3rd generation: high-tech and more expensive ($500 - $5500 per bike), including use of Smart Card technology.  Allow tracking of bikes.

Portland’s system would likely be of the 3rd generation type.  Guangzhou and Hangzhou’s systems  and Barcelona’s Bicing are of this type as well.  Barcelona recently published a study indicating the safety aspects of its system – it claims 12+ lives a year are being saved as a result of the program.

-          Terra Curtis

 

Bike Share Apps for Capital BikeShare and Others

I’m going to piggyback on a post from the Greater Greater Washington (GGW) blog, which presents several apps (mobile and web) designed to make the use, operation, or analysis of DC’s Capital Bikeshare (or CaBi) system easier.  All of these apps are enabled by open data and showcase how bikeshare operators can benefit from the work of private developers.  Their own website includes a dashboard, which includes system-wide (default view) and individual station (requires some digging) data. Mobile examples include:

  iFindBikes Web examples include:

One astute comment on the GGW post posits the data, as displayed in an app like SpotCycle, could be used as part of an incentivization scheme whereby users are credited with minutes or money to use on the system if they return their bike to an empty or low-inventory bike station.  This would help automate the redistribution operation, which could cost on the order of 20-30 percent of the total cost of the system.  This means incentive credits offered to users could be quite high and still offer a net gain to the operator.

I’m not sure why they haven’t done this yet, but I could also see this data integrated into DC’s (or other city’s) online trip planner.  Currently, DC’s system offers the choice of using bus, rail, or both when searching for a transit trip – why not include bike share?  Why not include it as a result in the search as an alternative by default?  This would be a less direct way of encouraging the use of the system, a way of raising awareness cheaply by leveraging the established use of the trip planner software.  (Side note: it’s not even included in their listing of “alternate transportation” or the “bike n’ ride” link.  Seems like a no brainer to me.)

It might also be interesting to put practical graphics (like the one below) on physical screens in local businesses near to the bike stations, similar to information displays on bus stops.  Imagine if, leaving your hotel, you were first greeted with a bike rather than a cab stand – a quicker, cheaper, and funner travel mode that you might just be convinced to try.

- Terra Curtis

 

Capital Bikeshare (Washington, DC)

DC bike laneI’ve spent this week in Washington, DC at the annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference which brings together transportation professionals from all over the world to discuss the state-of-the-art and the state to which it’s heading in the future.  Topics ranging from innovative pavement materials, livability, community involvement and many others have been covered. This afternoon, after spending all morning in a session about context-sensitive solutions, one of my colleagues and I decided to try out DC’s Capital Bikeshare (side note: check out this map of bike usage).  I have to admit, my initial experiences with the system left a lot to be desired; the first station we tried to rent from had a completely faulty payment collector.  We had to walk 4 or 5 blocks to the next station to rent from another station.  Had we not been so interested in trying out the product (after all, we’re here for a transportation conference), I’m sure this issue would have been enough to turn us away not only today but in the future as well.

Once we figured out the payment structure ($5 for a 24-hour membership plus fees for any rides over 30 minutes long), we checked out our bikes and were on our way.  Despite the below freezing temperatures in DC today, the rest of the ride was a joy.  DC has implemented new bicycle infrastructure all over the city.  And for the US, much of it is quite innovative.  On Pennsylvania Avenue, for example (see the photo above), they have arranged a partially separated, two-way bike path that runs down the center of the roadway.  This is supposed to avoid conflicts with vehicles that frequently pull over to the curb (buses, taxis, delivery vehicles), but we found it was still plagued by blockages (again, see the photo – that is actually a police vehicle blocking the way).  Elsewhere, we had to leave the protection of the separated lane to swerve around a taxi and a post office vehicle literally parked in the lane, without anyone sitting inside the vehicle.  With these new treatments, enforcement will be a necessary add-on.

With more studies showing that even minimal bicycle infrastructure like “sharrows” can induce cyclists to ride more safely, I think DC has done a good job to encourage and foster cycling not only downtown but also in the suburbs near metro stops.  Let us know your feedback if you’ve used Capital Bikeshare as well.

-Terra Curtis